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On the Job with Susan Wiley

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. I'm not the "wait around and see" kind of person. I wouldn't wait until graduation to start searching for a job. To have a better advantage, I'd find a summer job that related to my major even if I had to work free.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. Very eventful. I put it in my checking account and paid bills.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. My managers, Elyse Brown and Honey Bolton, motivate everyone at the shop.

Q. What was your first job?

A. I worked at a retail shop called Papagallo in Columbus.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. I needed a job. Since I had worked and managed several retail shops, it made sense to use that experience.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. My parents, Roy and Virginia Browder, could do anything they put their minds to and taught all six of us that same principle, and that the worst four-letter word is "can't." Also, my manager at Papagallo, Diane Andrews, was so organized and focused. She was tough but you knew she did what was always best for us and the shop.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. I can't say I've learned anything from the recession we are in now. My biggest lessons were learned in the first one I went through. I have learned to get positioned with extra resources set aside and cut as hard as you can on extras.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. I would have to say the automated phone systems.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. I don't have a favorite work-related gadget. I'm not attached to all the tech toys available.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. The book club I'm a member of picked "The Noticer" by Andy Andrews and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I read constantly anything I can get my hands on. Inspirational usually in the morning or night and everything else all day. I read several trade and business magazines a month and follow business articles wherever I can find them. My personal and business mail comes with hours of reading material each day.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I'm awake by 6 a.m. and start listening to the news on several different stations. Then about 6:30 or 7 move to coffee and e-mails. I'm at my desk most mornings by 8 or 8:30, sometimes earlier. This is when I start working on the list I made the night before and then anything else that always happens that you didn't count on. This is also when I talk with Honey and Elyse about things that pertain to the store.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. I enjoy playing bridge, working in the yard, reading, traveling, volunteering and spending lots of time with my family.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. The only business decision I can think of that I would take back is starting this business with partners. Everyone's work ethic is so different. I think balancing everyday with a partner is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. This is something that I failed at terribly and the partnership only lasted a year.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Customers. I have never worked so hard and had so much fun.I think everybody at the store feels that way.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. The worst thing is not being able to please everyone 100 percent of the time.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. I can't name just one. The most beneficial courses I took in college were accounting and psychology. You need both working in retail.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. I love what I am doing so this is something I haven't really thought about.

Q. Finish this thought; "on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. The same things, but probably more. I know I won't be gearing down. There is too much to see and do.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Listening so you can surround yourself with people you respect if the business is going to move forward.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. I hate to give my opinion because I feel like 90 percent of our news and information we receive is now someone's opinion and not facts so you can create your own analysis. As a business owner I met with Elyse and Honey in 2008 and discussed what I was doing to prepare for what I thought was coming, I put a plan together to get us to 2013.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. This is easy. Motown, country and show tunes.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?

A. This is like picking your favorite child. I have lots of great vacations with family and friends. I guess the best one to pick is the summer I spent studying Spanish in Columbia, South America, while in college. It definitely was my favorite quarter in college and it became my favorite subject.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Less customer service. I continually see people wanting more customer service and seeing less of it in their communities.